Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Costa Rica - Day One - The beautiful animals of La Paz

This is my first time visiting Costa Rica, and I came here with high expectations for the photographic opportunities. On the first day, we made the one hour drive from San Jose to La Paz to visit the Waterfall Gardens. This is an excellent place to photograph animals which are native to this region.

(Canon 1DX, 100-400mm lens at 360mm, ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/640 sec)

This was one of the first photos that I took, looking up at this Toucan. I just love the colors in this bird! As I usually do, I focused on his eyes and fired off a bunch of shots as he looked in all directions.

(Canon 1DX100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 2000, f/5.6, 1/60 sec)

We also came across this albino squirrel. I have seen thousands of squirrels before, but never a white one.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/2.8, 1/80 sec)

As I walked around the aviary, I saw this little guy and grabbed this shot. I framed this to have the bird off-center, using the rule of thirds.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

One of the highlights of the Waterfall Gardens is the butterfly building. This building has many different species of butterflies which fly all over the place, often landing on visitors. It was a great place to break out the new Canon 7D Mark II with a Canon 100mm macro lens.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 640, f/4, 1/200 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

Check out the cool patterns on this butterfly.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 640, f/4, 1/500 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

It was fun to get up close and personal with the macro lens.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

We were very lucky to see numerous Giant Blue Morpho butterflies with their wings open. In California, I am used to seeing the orange and brown colors on Monarch butterflies, but this was so cool to see the vibrant blue wings of this magnificent insect.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/7.1, 1/100 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

Since this Morpho was staying still, I decided to go straight over-head and shoot down. I really like the composition and the way that it shows the structure of the insect.

(Canon 1DX100-400mm lens at 400mm, using the Canon 500 lens adaptor, ISO 2000, f/5.6, 1/80 sec)

I brought my Canon Closeup Lens 500D on this trip, so that I could use the long lens but get even closer. I put on this lens (which is really like a filter which screws onto a 77mm lens) and focused in really close to one of the butterflies to show you the beauty of the patterns in the wings. Chances are, you have never heard of the 500D, but this little "filter" turns any lens (yep - even Nikon and others) into a macro lens. And for only $149.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 2000, f/4, 1/125 sec, -0.3 exposure comp)

Here is a butterfly coming out of it's pupae. How often do you see that happen?

(Canon 1DX100-400mm lens at 285mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, Canon 600Ex-RT flash)

At this location, they have an area with numerous hummingbird feeders and they attract hundreds of these little speedsters. I was most interested in shooting the Violet Sabrewing, since we do not have those back home. And look at these colors! I used a flash to help isolate the birds in flight and to bring out their colors.

(Canon 1DX100-400mm lens at 300mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, Canon 600Ex-RT flash)
I shot this photo at 1/100 sec to show the motion of the wings, also using the flash on this shot. This was one of my favorite shots of the day. For any of you who have tried photographing hummingbirds, it is a real test of your patience. They move so fast and rarely stay in any one place for more than a second. As soon as you get a focal point on them, they are usually flying away.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 500, f/3.2, 1/200 sec)
This little lady decided to stop long enough for me to get this shot. Phew! That was a lot easier than shooting her in flight.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 2000, f/4, 1/60 sec)

Our last stop of the day was a visit to the frogs, but since it was late in the day, most of them were already asleep and nowhere to be found. This little guy was making an appearance from within a small plant. If you did not look closely, you would never have seen him.

(Canon 7D Mark II100mm macro lens, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/500 sec)

This last shot was taken at the end of the day, as I was walking out of the park. It had rained pretty heavily and the water was on this flower. I loved the way that the bright pink colors contrasted with the background, so I took this last shot. Overall, a really fun day. We planned on coming back for a second day to see what else we capture. Stay tuned for the next blog entry!


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.


saralynn143 said...

Gorgeous photos. The toucan is so vivid it almost looks like a stuffed animal. I also really like the emerging butterfly.

I've been to Costa Rica twice, but both times on a tour bus full of high school students so I was a slave to the tour schedule. If I ever go back, it will be on my own and with better equipment.

Christina said...

Amazing shots Jeff!!

Jo Fields said...

We went to Costa Rica in May 2014 and stayed at the Peace Lodge which is on the property with La Paz Waterfall and Gardens. if you go again for a second day, i highly recommend the hummingbird feeding time. the staff covers the large feeders and distributes hand-held feeders. the hummers will come and sit on your fingers to drink from the smaller feeders. Wonderful experience! Favorites of our trip were Arenal hanging bridges park, Monteverde cloud forest for birds and Manuel Antonio park for Sloths!

Sullivan J Photography said...

These are so beautiful! I really enjoyed your close up shots!

Jlew said...

Thanks, Jeff, for sharing these shots. They are very inspirational. Your blog is an enormous help for those seeking to grow their photographic skills.

JuneIsland said...

Beautiful images. Your first and last shot (toucan & vibrant pink flower) are gorgeous. Thanks!

Mike said...

Have to say Jeff, your blog is fantastic, so easy to read and very inspiring. I am a junior photographer slowly learning and experimenting so you putting your techniques and settings is really helpful.

Sometimes with my photography I feel disheartened but when I read your blog and see your pictures it makes me want to get out there and take more pictures and improve.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and look forward to your future posts.